Highlights of Kazakhstan

Highlights of Kazakhstan in 15 days

Central Astana

Central Astana

Highlights of Kazakhstan during this 15-day tour:
– a mini tour in a tour. That is, a five-day trip from Almaty in the countryside and beautiful nature of Almaty Province
– the strongly contrasted cities of Almaty and Astana
– staying for two days in the village of Jabagly in a lovely guesthouse, nearby the nature reserve Aksu-Jabagly
– old Kazakh culture & history in Turkestan and surrroundings
– experiencing contemporary Kazakhstani life & people during the train journey from Almaty to Turkestan (private two-persons compartments are possible)

The tour starts in Almaty and finishes in Astana. In between you travel in the south, visiting the historic town of Turkestan and Central Asia oldest nature reserve, i.e. Aksu-Jabagly. Before that you have enjoyed Kazakhstani countryside and spectacular nature during a 5-day tour starting and ending in Almaty.
Much variety in this program in a country that has not seen mass tourism yet!

You can read more about travelling in Kazakhstan and in Central Asia here. Including much practical advise.

Day 1

Flight to Almaty, Kazakhstan.


Day 2

day distance: 50 kms

Panfilov Cathedrale, Almaty, Kazakhstan

Panfilov Cathedrale in Central Almaty

Arrival in Almaty, usually at night, transfer to a hotel in the city. Time to rest, breakfast. Start of your tour visiting many highlights in Kazakhstan!

After lunch a four hour excursion with English speaking guide by car, acquainting oneself with the city and its surroundings. Return to the hotel and leisure time.



Day 3

day distance: 380 kms

Singing Dune, Altyn Emel National Park, Kazakhstan

Singing Dune in Altyn Emel

On the way to the national park Altyn Emel, north of the reservoir Kapchagai. In the vast park you have a chance to spot wildlife, namely wild donkeys (kurgan) and steppe antilopes (djeiran).

In addition, far away from any sand desert, there’s a three kilometer long sand dune, the so-called Singing Dune, which you will visit from Basshi. For your information, the singing sound can be heard while sliding downhill.

You dine and spend the night in a small hotel in the village of Basshi.

Day 4

day distance: 140 kms

Kakatau Mountains, Altyn Emel National Park, Kazakhstan

Aktau and Kakatau mountains in Altyn Emel

We drive in the Altyn Emel National Park to the white Aktau Mountains and the red Kakatau Mountains, at 70 kms from Basshi.

Enjoy the multi-colored and ancient rocks and take a walk in this surreal landscape! Beware, in summer it gets hot here, cover your head with a hat.

Return to Basshi, leisure time and dinner.



Day 5

day distance: 310 kms

Free roaming horses, Kyrgyz-Kazakh borderlands

En Route

On the road to the Kolsai Lakes the semi-desert of Altyn Emel is traded for steppe landscapes where you will see plenty of horses roaming, usually without anyone nearby. We include a short visit to the town of Zharkent first, close to the Chinese border and famous for its unique, Chinese-built mosque that has more in common with a Buddhist temple on the outside. In Zharkent you will enjoy lunch.

Further you go, to arrive in the village of Saty. This is your base for any exploration of the wonderful Kolsai Lakes, that are situated in the high mountains bordering Kyrgystan. The first lake is situated at 10 kms from Saty. You will have accommodation in a homestay in this village. Take a walk in the village to observe life in the Kazakh countryside.


Day 6

day distance: 50 kms

First Kolsai Lake, Kazakhstan

Kolsai Lake 1

Today you will stay at the beautiful Kolsai Lakes. The first lake lies at an altitude of 1,818 meters. Lake two is situated 9 kms onwards at an altitude of 2,252 meters. It’s a tough hike but well-possible (and back) within a day for reasonably fit people.

The route is markeed and easy to find. It is possible to rent a horse and ride to the second lake, together with a horseman. A spectacular ride! The riding is not difficult but crossing rivers and riding through steep forests and along steep mountain slopes requires good nerves!
You will have a lunchbox with you today.

Return to Saty and if time permits, depending on your plans in the first half of the day, there is time to take an excursion to the remarkable Kayndi lake with the outstanding trees at a 45 minutes drive from Saty. The trip is by jeep. Return to Saty and dinner.


Day 7

day distance: 310 kms

Charyn Canyon, Kazakhstan

Charyn Canyon

You will end the day in Almaty. Before that, you will of course visit Charyn Canyon, 110 kms north of Saty and on the route to Almaty. This is probably the most popular natural phenomenon in the province of Almaty, located 220 kms from the city. Here you will enjoy a picnic and walk between the beautiful rock formations and the river Charyn.

Close to Almaty in the village of Issyk you will pay a visit to the Golden Man Museum, with treasures from the surrounding burial mounds from the Sakh period. In the evening you return in Almaty and will be taken to your hotel. Please take note that in order to visit the Golden Man Museum you should leave early from Saty this day! Please inform us in advance when you wish to include the Golden Man Museum.


Day 8

day distance: 50 kms

Ski Lift at Chymbulaq resort, Almaty, Kazakhstan

Panorama from the top at Chymbulaq

Another (and final) day in Almaty. In the morning you have free time and check out from your hotel. In the afternoon there will be a trip with a driver to the famous Medeo ice rink, located at 1,600 meters altitude at the foot of the high mountains.

Here, most speed-skating world records were broken until the mid-1980s! A gondola can take you even higher, to the ski resort of Chymbulaq. And if desired, ski-lifts can bring you up to 3,100 meters, with fantastic views and walking opportunities.

Afterwards you are transfered to the train station for the night train to the historic town of Turkestan, 850 kms to the west.


Day 9

day distance: 840 kms by train, 85 kms by car

Bedding of former Aral Sea, Kazakhstan

Landscape in Turkestan vicinity

You will arrive in Turkestan around noon. Enjoy life & people in a Kazakh train on a long journey, when people share food and stories, even with hands and feet if language is a barrier! The landscape will turn more arid when you approach Turkestan. During the stops you can purchase all kind of snacks and there’s always a restaurant wagon in the train.

Upon arrival you will be transfered to your hotel. In the afternoon a guided excursion to the ruins of Sauran, situated at 43 kms from Turkestan, is offered.



Day 10

day distance: 250 kms

Mausoleum of Khawaja Ahmed Yasawi in Turkestan, Kazakhstan

Turkestan Mausoleum

A day consisting of two contrasting parts. You will be in Turkestan for an excursion to the most important building in Kazakhstan, namely the Mausoleum of Khodzha Achmed Yassawi, built between 1389 and 1405.

The excursion is followed by the transfer to Aksu-Jabagly, the oldest nature reserve of Central Asia. On the way, via the city of Shymkent, you will visit the Aristan Bab Mausoleum and ruins of the ancient city of Otrar, ruined by the Mongols. Since 1969, thanks to archaeological excavations, the old city has gradually come back to life. This is still going on.

In Jabagly you will stay in a small pension, one of the most attractive in Kazakhstan. The village is the gateway to the nature reserve Aksu-Jabagly.


Day 11

day distance: 30 kms

Horse riding in Aksu Jabagly nature reserve, Kazakhstan

horse riding in Aksu-Jabagly

Today you will stay in the village Jabagly and visit the nearby nature reserve. Aksu-Jagably has a very rich flora and fauna, including several species of wild tulips, bears and even the elusive snowleopard! You are unlikely to meet one but previous customers have come across a brown bear. In spring the fields and hills are beautifully covered in flowers.

You will be offered a guided excursion today in the reserve, by jeep. And including hiking as you wish. Horse-riding is also an option. (the cost for renting horses is not included in our offer).



Day 12

day distance: 125 kms by car, 1,000 kms by plane

Aksu river in Aksu Jabagly nature reserve, Kazakhstan

Aksu-Jabagly nature reserve

Another day in Jabagly. Like yesterday you will enter the reserve for an excursion, bringing your lunchbox. You can opt for a hike, horse-riding or driving in the jeep from across the reserve.

In the end of the afternoon you will return to the guesthouse and enjoy dinner. Afterwards a transfer brings you to Shymkent Airport for the late evening flight of one hour to Astana, where you wille arrive just after midnight.



Day 13

day distance: 30 kms

Bayterek Tower in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan

Central Astana with a view of the Baiterek Tower

Astana, since 1994 (and till 1997 known as Aqmola) the new capital of Kazakhstan and situated in the middle of the northern steppe.
This city, formerly called Tselinograd, was once a small provincial town and the capital of Chroesjow’s Virgin Land Campaign in the fifties of the last century.

You will be met at the airport at midnight and transfered to your hotel in the city, half an hour drive away. After some rest a guided city excursion is offered in the afternoon to acquant yourself with Astana and its remarkable transformation from a provincial grain town to the new and hypermodern capital of Kazakhstan.





Day 14

day distance: 70 kms

Hazrat Sultan Mosque in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan

Besides free time – this is your last day in the country – today there’s an excursion included to another page in the history of Kazakhstan. In this area, many political prisoners were held in labor camps in the days of Stalin, and later also prisoners of war from WW2.

Today you will visit a special former prison (Alzhir), namely one for the family members – women and children – of the political prisoners. The prison-turned-museum is situated 35 kms from Astana.

Return to the city and end of the program. Accommodation in your hotel.
You may choose for a leisure day today, please let us know in advance.



Day 15

In the early morning, or depening on your flight schedule, transfer to Astana Airport. End of your tour with many highlights in Kazakhstan!

The cost of this program including many highlights in Kazakhstan at six persons is €1,470 per person, at four persons €1,680 p.p. and at two persons €2,095. For other group sizes please write  us.

Included in the offer are:
– three nights of accommodation in a 4* class hotel in Astana, two nights plus an early check-in a 4* hotel in Almaty, two nights in a guesthouse in Jabagly, two nights in a homestay in Saty, two nights in a small hotel in Basshi and one night in a hotel in Turkestan, all on the basis of bed & breakfast and double rooms
– all transfers in by car/minibus; please note that five day mini-tour from Almaty is with a driver who speaks basic English but without an English language guide. Plus a transfer by train from Almaty to Turkestan in a four persons compartment.
– services of English speaking guides during all excursions
– entrance tickets for all nature parks, museums and sites according to the program
– nine lunches and seven dinners
– transfers airport-hotel-airport at the start and finish of the program
– mineral water during the transfers & excursions

Not included in the offer are the international flight tickets, the remaining lunches and dinners, the domestic flight Shymkent-Astana (price indication €65-120) and all not mentioned services. An English language guide for the five-day trip from Almaty can be hired at €450 in total.
Finally we withhold €9 per person for the Dutch GGTO Travel Guarantee Fund.

The cost to upgrade to a two persons compartment in the train from Almaty to Turkestan at €30 per person extra.







    indication €1.680-2,095 p.p. at 4-2 persons ex. flights


    15 days

    Tour map of route in Kazakhstan